I’ve only been a dad for 8 and a half years. To be honest I feel a little silly writing about being a dad. Though I have some experience I wouldn’t consider it enough to be an expert. I suspect I will never be an expert but that is the beauty of any relationship we are in. There are constant ebbs and flows that gives us a lifetime of opportunities to learn and grow and our success is found in the ability to do so.
Last winter I started the journey of coaching soccer. Much like becoming a dad I had no idea what to expect. Coaching has brought with it anxiety, frustration, exhaustion and some amazing laughs and smiles. Now in my second season we are undefeated and the boys are learning, growing and having fun.
I constantly feeling like I’m faking it as a coach and a parent, I deal with stuff as it comes but never really have a full out strategic plan. Knowing what I want to happen isn’t the problem, knowing how to make it happen is. It seems Fatherhood is very similar to being a coach. I want to coach my boys to become joyful, hardworking, giving and kind young men. Here are 3 leadership traits I’ve learnt as a soccer coach that transcend to fatherhood that I think will help me achieve my goals as a father:
1) Encourage – Colossians 3:21 reminds us to not to cause discouragement in our kids. Kids are kids. They are learning everything you think is normal and easy. Just like when I was learning to drive, though reversing was second nature to my father, it was impossible for me to avoid that truck in the parking lot. Our kids might not kick, pass, run or pay attention as good as they will one day but harping on their inability will not get them where they can be. Become focused and diligent in finding situations to encourage them. Sometimes a simple “good job” or “great effort” squashes the insecurity that has been making it tough for them to excel. Encouragement can be the switch that turns on the realization that they can do it.
2) Teach – Proverbs 4:1 reminds us that it’s in teaching that our children learn and understand. Besides any mental/developmental challenges children start off as clean slates. Whatever paint colors you give them is what will show up on their life’s canvas. If you don’t take the time to teach a child how to throw in the ball from the sidelines there is a good chance that they won’t know how to. The key to teaching is time. Invest time into your kids and teach. Answer their questions, let them watch you and learn. Teach your children how to be joyful, hardworking and kind. If you don’t chances are good no one will.
3) Love – Above all LOVE YOUR KIDS. There are going to be moments where you want to bench, and sometimes you will need to. I am confident however that if you love your kids they will learn from it. 1 Corinthians shows us what love looks like. Love is patient and kind; It’s not envious or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. No matter the stress, frustration level or even anger we need to LOVE our kids. Before you react, love. It’s the hardest thing to do but the most important.
Without love we will find that it is impossible to encourage or teach our children, and rightly so. It’s in the vulnerability of love that we find safety. And it’s in that safety that we humble ourselves to learn and grow. Kids are the same. Encourage them, teach them , love them and you will find success as a coach, leader and most importantly Father. Happy Father’s Day!